By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Nation Weekend
WHEN CHAROEN Pokphand Group - Thailand’s largest agribusiness and food conglomerate – joined forces with Taiwan’s leading hotel and restaurant operator HiLai, the result was bound to be delicious. A must for all big eaters – and smaller ones too – is the country’s biggest international buffet restaurant Harbour, which can accommodate 450 diners a round or 1,000 diners a day.
Taiwan’s famed international buffet restaurant brand Harbour opens its first outlet in Thailand at Iconsiam with a megasize dining area and a large choice of dishes.
Spanning 2,000 square metres on the sixth floor of Iconsiam, this is the first outlet in Thailand of Taiwan’s famous buffet brand that first saw the light of day at Taiwan’s Grand HiLai Hotel in 2003 and now has seven outlets in Taiwan and two in China.
Operated under the joint-venture firm CP-Hilai Harbour Restaurant Group with Bt130 million in registered capital, the restaurant has an elegant ambience and boasts the silver, gold and bronze palette of Iconsiam’s key decoration.
A selection of tempura
“Harbour has enjoyed overwhelming success in Taiwan and China. We believe that we will be warmly welcomed by Thai consumers thanks to the restaurant’s strengths and the Thai love for eating out. And that’ll be the beginning of Charoen Pokphand Foods’s success in the restaurant business,” CPF’s chief operating officer for the food business Sukhawat Dansermsuk said in a recently released statement.
Harbour, which opened late last month, is CPF’s first step into the luxury retail restaurant business, having preferred up to now to focus on quick service eateries Chester Grill and CP Kitchen. It expects to generate revenue of Bt240 million in its first year.
Pizza and teppanyaki station
Encircling the mega-size dining area are six large cooking stations offering seafood and Japanese, Western, Asian, Chinese, pizza and teppanyaki, as well as desserts and drinks. The high-ceiling restaurant is decorated in warm wood tones and furnished with banquettes, circular couches and wooden tables and chairs. There’s enough space between seats to give diners a sense of privacy.
The buffet for weekdays is arranged for lunch (11.30am to 2.30pm) and dinner (5.30 to 9.30pm). The former costs Bt941-net for adults and Bt471-net per child, while dinner is marginally more expensive at Bt1,058-net and Bt530-net respectively. There’s all-day service at weekends with the buffet going for Bt1,294-net and Bt648-net for adult and child respectively. This month’s promotion is “dine in a party of four, get one free”.
A variety of sushi
“We offer a more than 200 items, which is more than the buffet selection in any hotel. All choices of beverages including free-flow beers are also included in the price tag,” says director Jason Wang who oversees the culinary team.
The biggest station sits next to the entrance and is laden with seafood and Japanese food selections. As of now, the seafood is not as varied as might be expected. Displayed on ice are three-spot swimming crabs, sea shrimps, oysters, Babylon snails, and New Zealand mussels.
Shrimps on ice
The big draw is the sashimi, sushi and tempura. The sashimi choices include salmon, hamachi (yellow-tail fish), maguro (tuna), tako (octopus), sea bass and shime saba (cured mackerel). Diners can feast on nigiri sushi with a variety of toppings such as grilled eel and flash-torched salmon, together with nori maki, inari sushi with tofu skin and chirashi – rice topped with a variety of raw fish and vegetable garnishes. Chilled soba noodles with a variety of sauce choices are also available.
Barbecued pork, roasted duck and chicken
The Chinese station offers such dim sum choices as har gau (steamed shrimp dumpling), steamed sumai with shrimp and mined pork, double boiled phoenix talons (chicken claws) in abalone sauce, and stewed pork intestine with Chinese five spices. Not to be missed are the BBQ pork, crispy-skin roasted duck and chicken and stir-fried beef rumen with Sichuan-style mala spice.
“Among the most popular dishes at every Harbour outlet are stewed scallop cooked with crabmeat and XO sauce in casserole that is made fresh upon ordering, as well as beef soup and danzai noodles, which originate from Tainan province in the South of Taiwan,” adds Wang.
Stewed scallop with crabmeat and XO sauce in casserole
The crabmeat, needle mushrooms and egg seasoned with in-house XO sauce made mainly from dried shrimp, scallop and chilli are cooked in a hot casserole before the scallop stew is added.
Taiwanese-style beef soup corner
For Taiwanese-style beef soup, fresh thin slices of Australian beef are available to cook in your choice of beef bone and daikon soup or Thai-style spicy soup. Tainan’s speciality dish of danzai noodle soup offers chewy yellow noodles in an amber coloured consomme that’s topped with simmered minced pork, and seasoned quail eggs. It’s seasoned with your choice of chilli oil, bean sprout, chopped spring onion, fried garlic and pickled vegetables.
Danzai noodle soup
The Asian station is currently dominated by Thai cuisine such as pad Thai with river prawn, som tum and boat noodles all prepared in front of the diner.
“About 60 per cent of our customers are tourists who would like to try Thai food. We will be offering Korean, Vietnamese and Indian cuisine later,” he says.
Pad thai with river prawn
Those who fancy some Western cuisine have a choice of 20 items in the salad bar with different sauces along with cold cuts, roasted Australian beef and salmon, pork knuckle, Italian tomato seafood and Hungarian beef stew. There’s also a pizza and teppanyaki station offering Italian-style pizzas and spaghettis together with the popular dish of steak served on a sizzling pan found in Taiwan’s night markets.
Flambe orange brandy
To cleanse the palate, Harbour offers flambe orange brandy for which a Valencia orange is split into halves and flame-tossed with a sugar topping and brandy.
Wang is justifiably proud of the dessert station, which has over 40 choices of Western and Thai sweets. They include cheesecake, white chocolate mousse, vanilla creme brulee, financier, strawberry choux as well as Thai favourite mango sticky rice. The signature Harbour dessert is fluffy pancake with your choices of whipped cream, caramelised strawberry, fruit salad, honey and almond flakes. Premium Movenpick ice creams in different flavours are all-you-can-eat.
Bubble milk tea
For drinks, the options range from canned soft drinks, fruit punch, smoothies, to tea and coffee, beer and of course, Taiwan’s famous bubble milk tea.
Harbour is on the sixth floor of Iconsiam mall in Bangkok.
Call (02) 055 1888 or search for “Cp-Hilai Harbour Restaurant” |on Facebook.